By Timothy Prentiss Staff Writer Kirkman Group, Inc
In 2012 the FDA banned Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups but studies continue to mount that show the potential health dangers of BPA.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most common man-made compounds. It is a plasticizer used to create water bottles, line metal cans, and coat store receipts. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study that found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of the people tested.1 BPA is so widespread, it has become virtually impossible to avoid it.
The potential effects of BPA are well documented. It is an endocrine disrupter (a class of toxins Kirkman® tests for) that has been studied in both humans and animals and has been linked to alteration of glucose metabolism, early pubescence, declined spermatogenesis and obesity. Studies of animals confirm that even exposure in utero can lead to endocrinal changes that are correlated with obesity later in life.2
In a recent experiment, a family in Austria attempted to entirely eliminate plastic from their lives. The presence of BPAs in their bodies was measured shortly after banishing all offending items from their home. After two months, most of the family members registered only a slight drop in bodily BPA. The researchers attributed the absence of a significant drop to the family’s inability to entirely eliminate exposure to plastics outside of their home. (Additionally there were some methodological problems with the experiment: the family started the experiment with relatively low urinary concentrations of BPA, since they had limited their use of plastics prior to the experiment, and their initial levels weren’t checked until four days after ridding their home of plastics.)3
Though BPA may be impossible to avoid entirely, there is still good reason to at least try to limit your exposure to it. For years, research has unearthed links between this chemical and a wide range of health consequences. Studies of both humans and animals have shown BPA exposure leads to reproductive and cardiovascular problems as well as changes in metabolism.
A recent study indicates bodily concentrations can vary greatly depending on where the exposures originate. One of the most common uses for BPA is in the lining of cans for food, as a plastic lining on the interior that is intended to prevent the foods from developing a metallic flavor. The study found that individuals who consumed one can of food had a 24 percent higher urinary concentration than those who consumed no canned food. Those that consumed two or more cans had a concentration 54 percent higher.
The surprise in the finding, however, was that urinary concentration varied widely depending on the type of food: one or more can of fruits or vegetables led to a 41 percent increase, while one or more cans of pasta led to a 70 percent increase. Canned soups led to a shocking 229 percent increase. Almost as surprising as that staggering number, the study found that drinking canned beverages did not correlate with any increase in urinary BPA concentration.4
The publicity that BPA has received has led many companies to remove BPA from their cans. Though this may sound like good news, in many cases food producers have just switched to other plasticizers that, while not as infamous as BPA, may be just as bad. In their desire to label their cans “BPA Free” they may have switched to PVC, for instance, which is a known carcinogen.
The government stopped short of banning the chemical altogether as other countries have done, however, citing the inconclusive evidence linking the compound to health problems. Recent indications that BPA may be passed to fetuses in utero indicate that children are susceptible to the dangers of BPA before they are even old enough to hold a sippy cup.
1. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Bisphenol A (BPA). Accessed 7/25/16 from: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/
2. Choi BI, Harvey A, Green M. Bisphenol A affects early bovine embryo development and metabolism that is negated by an oestrogen receptor inhibitor. Scientific Reports. 6, Article number: 29318 (2016), doi:10.1038/srep29318
3. Hutter HP, Kundi M, Hohenblum P, Scharf S, Shelton JF, Piegler K, Wallner P.,Life without plastic: A family experiment and biomonitoring study, Environmental Research. 2016 May 24. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.05.028.
4. Hartlea J, Navas-Acienb A, Lawrence R. The consumption of canned food and beverages and urinary Bisphenol A concentrations in NHANES 2003–2008. Environmental Research. Volume 150, October 2016, Pages 375–382. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2016.06.008